Stretched across the southwest corner of South Dakota, Badlands National Park is a landscape with two distinct faces. The first is made up of scarred terrain; smooth rock and dirt paths twisted by the elements to form an almost unending sprawl of canyons, ravines and other awe-inspiring natural formations. This part of the park is limitless and curious, a maze that makes true adventurers smile with delight.
But then miles from the mesas and the gullies and the mystery lay a more majestic side of Badlands National Park, hilly and windswept. One of the Western Hemisphere’s most renowned grasslands, the serene prairie of Badlands National Park rolls on further than the mind can fathom, painted with seas of powerful bison and other iconic American species. If you’re looking for a national park that balances difficulty, thrill and splendor, the Badlands is your guy.
Learn the history of the park
The stunning tapestry of Badlands National Park has, however, been marred by a period of violence between man and animal. For centuries the American buffalo was the heart and soul of Plains Indian tribes. After making a kill, the Native Americans utilized every part of a buffalo to fuel civilization for several months, and thus the animal was revered and hunted sparingly.
For much of the 19th century, though, the United States government sought to force Native Americans westward. To expedite the process and leave tribes with no choice, we overhunted and rapidly diminished the population of buffalo. Luckily, over the years, humongous herds of buffalo have been revitalized and returned to their home, and the powerful creatures continue to roam proudly in the Badlands.
Find your way in Badlands National Park
If you plan to travel Badlands by automobile, you won’t have to worry about getting lost in a tangle of paths. The park has only one motorway, known as Loop Road. Along the way, this road provides hikers and tour groups a bevvy of scenic locations for pictures and spots to set up camp. For more tips on visiting and further details on things to do at Badlands National Park, stop over at the park’s website to plan your journey into the heart of wild South Dakota.